Sunday, June 15, 2014

Benzema and Valbuena Shine as France Demolish Honduras

After the collapse in South Africa, the French team has been waiting for a chance to prove that they're still one of the World's elite nations when it comes to the big stage. Although France's 2014 World Cup campaign started with the news of Ribery's injury, perhaps the lack of Bayern Munich's winger in the squad will prove to be a positive as Les Bleus have found balance by replacing his starting spot with Antoine Griezmann from Real Sociedad. With Griezmann and Valbuena on the wings of the trident starring Karim Benzema up top, France had few problems against Honduras as they won 3-0 in Porto Alegre.

From the start of the match, France took control of possession with the midfield trio of Matuidi, Cabaye, and Pogba. Honduras defended with physicality and aggressiveness, but were never able to find any continuity as the French kept the ball with ease. Without the presence of Ribery, the French team was able to operate with more freedom when going forward, working the ball more rather than depending on the Bayern Munich winger's runs.

Although the French looked dangerous for the entire first half, it was only minutes from the break that they were given the chance to take the lead. Honduras' Wilson Palacios barged into Paul Pogba from behind, giving France a penalty while also earning his second yellow card, thus leaving Honduras with ten men and Benzema free to score from the spot.

With the 1-0 lead France started the second half with ease, scoring a second in just three minutes. It was Benzema again who volleyed onto the post before Honduras keeper Valladares fumbled the rebound just over the line. It was goal-line technology's debut in terms of being actually required, and it got the job done without delays or difficulties.

The second half went on with Valbuena running the show and dictating the tempo, linking up smoothly with Benzema and Griezmann while Honduras could only defend. It was Benzema yet again who sealed the scoreline, controlling the loose ball from a corner and blasting it into the back of the Honduras net to make it 3-0. With this first win under their belt, France prepare to face Switzerland (who defeated Ecuador 2-1) next.

Is this France team ready to make a proper run this World Cup? Is Ribery's injury giving the rest of the team more freedom to play? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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